Approach to Greek Art

Approach to Greek Art

Approach to Greek Art

Approach to Greek Art

Excerpt

As a new approach to Greek art--and by inference to all Western art--these chapters are not an attempt to go a little further than other studies of the subject, but an attempt to start the study somewhere else.

Limitations have been accepted.

The creative activities of mankind are rooted in simple beginnings. Men hewed rocky hollows to make more comfortable caves; they built huts, then houses and greater buildings. But that is another story. This book is not about architecture. At first there are just two materials man uses to create--mud and wood. Women sometimes work with these things too, but more often with grass and hair; and that is not part of our story. Man models with mud; and with coloured mud he starts to paint on skin or wood. Wood itself he carves; and so learns to carve harder things: bone, ivory and stone. Then man discovers metal and creates with that; but still, in effect, treats it either as mud or wood; for he either casts it, which is modelling, or he forges it, which means hammering and carving. He may make useless things with these materials in part because he enjoys it, in part because he finds others to enjoy his creations and it does him good to be appreciated. From this springs criticism, whereby distinction is made between what is fine and non-fine; and so with experience there grows good taste, a virtue of which the Greeks came to possess a very large share. It is this--good taste--which provides the golden thread that runs through the art of Greece from 1600 B.C. to A.D. 1200, and perhaps beyond.

There are paragraphs in this book which seem to be phrased in dogmatic fashion, but the constructive side of what has been written is not intended to be dogmatic. I could have loaded my sentences with the oft-repeated "possibly" and "perhaps", and might have reiterated that nothing more than a personal opinion . . .

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